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Commenter Stu: A parody of the NYT Minneapolis dating story, using local sports bloggers

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • October 8, 2013 - 3:18 PM
Good night, sweet prince

Good night, sweet prince

Many of you probably read with amusement/confusion the New York Times' recent profile of the Minneapolis dating scene.

Well, in the absence of any terrible Packers news (except that Clay Matthews is injured), Commenter RandBallsStu (branding!) has put together a fantastic parody of the article featuring prominent local sports bloggers and personalities. It is one of the best things you will ever read. Everything is a parody, of course, but all of the parties in it have consented to have their names used. Stu?

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As night-life emissaries go, one could do better than Aaron Gleeman, a 30-year-old Minnetonka sports blogger who wearily told a recent visitor about everything from a baseball statistic called FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) to what women want, something Mr. Gleeman shouldn’t know, seeing as how he recently asked one if he could live-tweet their date.

“It’s an endless series of half-starts and missed opportunities,” he said. “That’s what dating is.”

Mr. Gleeman, who described his work as “sitting at my computer and writing about baseball as I wait for death’s sweet embrace,” was at Stella’s, a multi-level bar in the swath of Minneapolis known as Uptown. It was a rainy night in mid-September, and the specter of other bloggers and sports enthusiasts, which some residents without hesitation say are just the very worst kind of people, was already looming over the throng.

It’s surely no accident that in “Surfin’ Bird,” the Minneapolis band The Castaways Trashmen describe a bird that everyone knows about, one that has acquired an ability to surf.  For patrons of this Uptown bar, none of whom can surf and are uniformly terrified of open water or displaying their ghostly pallor in a swimsuit, this song is a haunting reminder of a life spent not yelling at sports on televisions in bars.

“You want to watch football in winter,” said Dana Wessel, a 28-year-old radio producer who was with three friends at Stella’s, or “Not Cowboy Slim’s” as he calls it, surrounded by other sports radio professionals, sports bloggers, and a constant stream of boneless chicken wings. When it’s cold, he said, “You want to stay home and cuddle and watch movies and eat Jack’s Pizza and be with your Rocky DVDs.  But most of us are incapable of love or even the most basic of human interactions, so we’re here watching Akron/Southern Illinois in HD and screaming at them to go for a two-point conversion.”

“Summer’s for baseball,” said Mr. Wessel, who was wearing his shock of brown hair piled atop his head like a Jenga tower made out of Muppet fur. “Throwing speedballs and hitting dingers.”

His friend Michael Rand has a name for the kind of guys who patronize a bar rather than experience the many other cultural options Minneapolis has to offer. He calls them “every single one of my friends, literally all of them,” before heaving a bone-deep sigh.

“You can tell just by looking at them,” said Mr. Rand, 36, an aspiring digital editor at a local newspaper. “You see a guy wearing a Favre jersey, with the 'This is the most expensive shirt I will ever own and it’s not close' look. He’s like, ‘Come on, stretch the field, Ponder!’ You can tell they’re from Minneapolis by what they’re wearing, the way they talk,” Mr. Rand said. “If you’re from Minneapolis, you act like that.”

As for Mr. Gleeman, he wore a short-sleeved plaid dress shirt and Levi’s. He sported sensible glasses and a cell phone tagged with the word “Blackberry.” As he set out in this night after “pre-gaming” by recording a podcast with his friend John, he threw open a laptop to complete his look.

“Everybody wants to couple up with somebody and spend the rest of their life with that person,” he said. “But how do we get to that point?  I have no earthly idea, so in the interim I am going to rip the Twins’ starting pitching to shreds.”

One time, Mr. Gleeman was sent over to a woman playing Big Buck Hunter and instructed to tell her that, “Trevor Plouffe is at best a platoon player. At best! That’s his ceiling!” 

“That was where the conversation stopped,” he recalled with a laugh.

Later that night, while Mr. Gleeman was smoking outside, the woman approached him and said, as he remembered it: “I just want you to know, you seem like a really nice guy. I’m here with my boyfriend. And the Twins haven’t had a true platoon since Scott Leius and Mike Pagliarulo. They just don’t do it. You’re a ball guy, man, this is so simple. Just so you know for next time.” (Talk about Minnesota nice.)

Aside from the creep factor, the risk of a botched come-on in Minneapolis is that you’re likely to run into the recipient of your line over and over.

“Everybody knows everybody,” said Parker Hageman, 32, who works in novelty T-shirt design with a sideline in defending Denard Span’s defensive metrics to the point of near-violence.

“One thing I’d say about Minneapolis is that if you’ve made eye contact with one girl, you are treated as a golden god,” said Mr. Hageman. “People ask you all sorts of questions, like about what game you were watching in the background, or if she will be interested in your 12-team fantasy football keeper league with a 75/25 scoring system and a traditional snake draft because Nick flaked out last week and you’re scrambling to replace him,” he said. “So you can’t harbor hate.”

This Saturday night ended, as so many do, back at Mr. Wessel’s, for some early-morning post-gaming with whatever was left in the refrigerator. In the background, the Xbox was on the flat-screen, and Messrs. Gleeman, Wessel and Hageman were animatedly discussing the career arc of rap artist Ma$e.

It was nearly 3 a.m., and the conversation was becoming elliptical, almost fractal. Something Mr. Wessel had said earlier in the night came to mind.

“I totally dreamed about Minneapolis when I was growing up,” he had said many hours before. “I grew up in the suburbs and got so sick of it. I remember going to Uptown when I was in high school.”

“It was so cool,” he said. “I just wanted eat appetizers and scream at televisions so bad.” 

Does the life he has now live up to that dream? the visitor asked.

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “You can watch Premier League soccer on a giant screen at 7:00 Sunday morning, if you can stomach the [Manchester] United fans. It’s everything I could have ever imagined.” 

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